New state of matter found in chicken eyes
February 25, 2014 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Disordered Hyperuniformity "Along with eggs, soup and rubber toys, the list of the chicken's most lasting legacies may eventually include advanced materials such as self-organizing colloids, or optics that can transmit light with the efficiency of a crystal and the flexibility of a liquid. ..." Article does not provide recipes.
posted by GhostRider (27 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Torquato and Jiao developed a computer-simulation model that went beyond standard packing algorithms to mimic the final arrangement of chicken cones and allowed them to see the underlying method to the madness."

What a delightfully curious sentence. A little Carl Sagan, a little Douglas Adams, with just the slightest hint of H.P. Lovecraft.
posted by oulipian at 5:46 PM on February 25 [12 favorites]


Do I first have to assume a spherical chicken?
posted by jferg at 5:59 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


Somebody tell Werner Herzog. (I don't want to be the one to do it.)
posted by uosuaq at 6:11 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


Speaking for my chickens, "Aren't eggs enough?"
posted by tommasz at 6:20 PM on February 25 [5 favorites]


So I'm cornfuzed. If chickens have impeccable vision, do raptors also have this disordered hyperuniformity? Is there something similar in reptiles? How did this come about evolution-wise?

And I'm still going to eat my chicken's eggs, hyperuniform eyeballs or not.
(My 5 month old Jersey Giant chicks are laying their first eggs. So tiny and cute--and tasty!)
posted by BlueHorse at 6:23 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


I am very upset that my deinonychus never once mentioned this sort of thing to me. He's basically a giant chicken, as I often remind him. I'm sorely tempted to withhold his weekly cortical enhancement.
posted by clockzero at 6:50 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


Has anyone figured out what the journal reference at the bottom has to do with the article?

1. J. T. Miller, A. Lazarus, B. Audoly, P. M. Reis. Shapes of a Suspended Curly Hair. Physical Review Letters, 2014; 112 (6) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.068103

It doesn't seem to have anything to do with the research that is described, and I can't see where the citation is from.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:00 PM on February 25


Has anyone figured out what the journal reference at the bottom has to do with the article?

The reference is a study of how the configuration of thin, filament-like structures is affected by curvature under their own weight, and the article is about (in part) how lots of cones structures in the eye are packed into a very small space under specific biological constraints.
posted by clockzero at 7:29 PM on February 25


I was, by now, expecting to see a run of chicken / road jokes.
posted by GhostRider at 7:40 PM on February 25


Is there something similar in reptiles?

They mention in the paper that reptiles and fish have a crystalline (i.e. perfectly hexagonally close-packed) arrangement of cones.

By the way, here's a link to the paper itself. Anyone who doesn't have access is welcome to MeMail me for a copy.

Most curious, I thought, was the complete lack of mention of mammalian eyes. I've spent a good amount of time looking at images of the human cone mosaic, but no one does color—it's basically impossible to do at the moment in vivo (though at least 3 groups are working on it), and it seems no one is busy doing post-mortem histology. However, it is known that the colors are distributed in a weird way, so I'd be really interested to see this applied to human or primate eyes.
posted by Maecenas at 7:42 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


Has anyone figured out what the journal reference at the bottom has to do with the article?

I admire your ingenuity clockzero, but there was a Feb 12 story about curly hair on the site:
In a paper appearing in the Feb. 13 issue of Physical Review Letters, researchers at MIT and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris provide the first detailed model for the 3-D shape of a strand of curly hair.
...
Co-authors on the paper are Pedro Reis, an assistant professor in MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Department of Mechanical Engineering; Basile Audoly and Arnaud Lazarus, of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie; and former MIT graduate student James Miller, who is now a research associate at Schlumberger-Doll Research. Miller worked on this project as part of his doctoral thesis research and is lead author of the paper.
posted by jamjam at 8:08 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


I was, by now, expecting to see a run of chicken / road jokes.
posted by GhostRider at 11:40 AM on February 26 [+] [!]


Why did the chicken cross the road? BECAUSE OF ITS UNIMAGINABLY PERFECT EYES
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:16 PM on February 25 [4 favorites]


I knew those girls could see everything...now I want to know what else my chickens aren't telling me.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:19 PM on February 25


I do eyes. Just disordered hyperuniform chicken eyes.
posted by benzenedream at 8:50 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


"So, while it appeared that the cones were irregularly placed, their distribution was actually uniform over large distances. That's disordered hyperuniformity"

If you stand far back enough, the mess that is my life will also make perfect sense. No, keep backing up . . .
posted by CullerBell at 9:25 PM on February 25 [3 favorites]


At Berkeley, there's a group led by Austin Roorda who have imaged living human foveas and can identify the r, g, and b cones. The patterns obtained show that cones form "crystalline" hexagonal patterns, which was already known. What is interesting is that the red cones are rather clustered, as are the green cones (the blues are more uniformly spread out, but much less numerous). Chicken eyes have all cones scattered and not clustered, which I would have thought will yield better visual resolution when perceiving coloured objects. So I imagine chickens can see colour spatial detail better than humans.
posted by Zpt2718 at 10:01 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't the size of a chicken's eyes affect acuity versus say a human...?
posted by sfts2 at 10:42 PM on February 25


I don't know about chickens, but some birds' eyes are apparently able to produce long-lasting quantum entanglement, which allows them to see magnetic fields.
posted by Segundus at 3:00 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


It's not actually that a new state of matter has been discovered in chicken's eyes, is it? If I'm understanding, it's simply that the distribution of cells in a chicken's eye is in some ways analogous to the distribution of particles in materials with disordered hyperuniform structure - which is a previously unrecognised state of matter with some interesting properties. The chicken's eye doesn't get these special properties, it's just a neat way of arranging things. That's OK, but it looks as if we haven't got all that much more than 'scattered evenly' as described by scientists who swallowed the Dictionary of Grandiloquence.

Or am I missing the point?
posted by Segundus at 3:28 AM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Impeccable eyes are necessary for chickens to find new places to crap.

Quick! To the driveway! It's so clean!
posted by jquinby at 4:21 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


I don't know about chickens, but some birds' eyes are apparently able to produce long-lasting quantum entanglement, which allows them to see magnetic fields.

Wow. That is way more mind-blowing than disordered hypodermic eyeball thingee.
posted by superelastic at 5:05 AM on February 26


I thought it was well known that humans perceived colour at a lower resolution than brightness? I've certainly seen that used as an explanation for various trade-offs made in early colour digital systems (like the ZX Spectrum) where pixels are grouped together in blocks of lower resolution uniform colour.

This is all very interesting to me, as (as mentioned previously on MeFi) I've got an optic nerve condition that damages the signalling between retina and brain, and my visual perception is most certainly affected in ways that vary according to colour Saturated yellows are very unpleasant to look at, for example, especially against a different uniform colour.

No spring chicken.
posted by Devonian at 5:40 AM on February 26


Also, if the term "disordered hyperuniformity" has existed before this paper, it seems to have escaped Google's notice. My hype-meter is twitching a bit
posted by Devonian at 5:52 AM on February 26


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, disordered hyperuniformity is in the eye of the chicken.
posted by Segundus at 8:47 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


Thank you DoctorFedora
posted by GhostRider at 9:01 AM on February 26


Do I first have to assume a spherical chicken?

"Assume a spherical chicken" reminds me of the few yoga classes I've attended.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:36 AM on February 26


The clustering of red and green cells in the fovea explains why the spatial resolution of colours is so low, compared to the spatial resolution of brightness alone. In other words, we can't see much detail in coloured images of equal "value", whereas we can see finer detail in gray-level images.

This deficiency was exploited in the NTSC standard, which defined how colour was transmitted in analog TV in North America. Colour was an afterthought for North American TV signals, which were initially purely transmitted in black and white (brightness only). The brightness signal used about 5 MHz of bandwidth, while the chroma (hue and saturation) signal only used 2 MHz. Thus less spatial information was transmitted for colour than for brightness, but viewers tended not to notice this.
posted by Zpt2718 at 12:48 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


« Older These cats are the "image characters" (mascots) fo...  |  22 Adorable Before And After P... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments